Herbs have been used as medicine since the dawn of humankind. Of course, there are thousands of herbs on this amazing green marble. It’s almost overwhelming trying to pick which herbs you should use as a dietary supplement.
We’ve crafted this guide to help you understand the medicinal properties herbs can offer, with 9 suggestions towards the bottom to help you get started.
We encouraged the safe use of herbs to heal the mind, body, and soul. Without further adieu, let us walk you through the ways in which you can – and can’t – use herbs as medicine.
Can I Use Herbs As Medicine?
While we can’t condone the use of herbs as a diagnosis or treatment, we can recommend using herbs in safe dosages as spectacular dietary supplements. Herbal remedies have done amazing things for athletes, yogis, professionals, and your everyday Jane. From reducing inflammation to easing you down into a restful sleep, herbs are an all-natural solution to common ailments.
Remember: every herb has its own unique properties, much as your body has its own unique chemistry. Some herbs are therapeutic to the mind and soul, while others may improve your physical health.
Keep in mind that just because herbs are plant-based and an all-natural solution to many issues, that does not mean they are always safe for use by everyone.
As always, ask your physician and herbalist about your herbs. This is especially important if you are:
- Pregnant or nursing
- On any prescription or OTC medications, as they could interact
- Have any serious medical conditions
- Experiencing any adverse side effects
Working with a Master Herbalist and doctor will help you select the best and safest herbs to add to your daily diet.
You’ll also want to read up on what herbs you’re consuming and the seller you’re sourcing them from. You are your own best advocate! Doing your research will help you gain all the benefits of using herbs as medicine and avoid any side effects.
How To Research Herbs As Medicine
To use herbs as medicine for your body, mind, and spirit, you’ll want to be sure you have all the most up-to-date and reliable information available to you. You’ll also want to dig deep into your supplier’s quality standards to make sure you’re getting a high quality version of the herb you want, and that they’re using safe, ethical, and hopefully organic farming or wildcrafting practices.
That’s a lot to get into, so let’s break it down.
Our Master Herbalist has recommended the following books on herbs as medicine to make sure you’re well informed about the benefits and risks of every herb.
We recommend using these reliable resources:
- Prescription for Herbal Healing by Phyllis Balch
- Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar
Finding a Reliable Supplier
You’ve heard it before: every dollar is a vote. We want to help you vote for sustainable companies with ease. Does your herbal medicine supplier make any of these claims?
We hope so!
Also, be sure to look for suppliers who put the country of origin and the Latin name of the botanical on the package. While you don’t necessarily need to know all the Latin names of every herb, this practice shows that the supplier has done their research. In turn, this means they care about their product. If they know where it came from, they are probably sourcing herbs from high quality farms.
How To Consume Herbs As Medicine
In your search for herbal remedies, you’ll find herbs packaged as herbal teas, powders, oils, extracts, tablets, capsules, and topical creams and lotions. Herbs are most powerful when consumed, but can have highly therapeutic benefits in other forms as well. Your method of consumption will depend on what ails you and what your doctor and herbalist suggest. Here are a few common ways to consume herbs as medicine.
Drinking Herbal Tea
Refreshing. Soothing. Warming to soul. Herbal tea is one of the safest and most effective ways to consume herbal medicine. You can find herbal tea crafted by a Master Herbalist, such as ours, to improve gut health (check out Know Your Gut, Trust Your Gut), deepen spiritual connection (see Meditative State of Mind), and many more uses.
It’s easy to brew and can be used as a morning pick-me-up with breakfast or as a healthful night cap.
Taking Capsules or Tablets
You’ve seen the walls of herbal and dietary supplements at the drugstore. Large bottles line the shelves. You can find almost anything there – almost.
A word of caution when selecting capsules and tablets to use herbs as medicine: read the ingredients. Dietary supplements are not well regulated by the FDA (this is why you must do your own homework!) They may include chemical fillers or be altered for taste.
Your pharmacist can assist you with selecting an organic brand. He or she also knows your medicine and is a good resource when seeking advice on the addition of herbal supplements to your morning medicine regime.
Herbs as medicine may come in the form of a botanical topical. 60% of what you put on your skin is absorbed, so be sure you’ve researched all of the ingredients in your herbal cream or lotion. We recommend brands that use organic and gentle kaolin clay, shea butter, or coconut oil as a carrier.
Using Essential Oils
Essential oils are made when the essence, or nutrient-rich life-force of an herb is extracted by cold-pressing or other means. The essence of an herb is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal by nature. It’s also incredibly fragrant, attracting pollinating insects as well as cultivating humans. It’s a defense mechanism that keeps the herb alive and thriving.
Essential oils have become hugely popular in the last decade due to their intoxicating scent and therapeutic benefits. Unfortunately, that’s resulted in more knock-offs and impure oils than ever. It bears repeating to research the manufacturer.
Essential oils can be used as aromatherapy by dripping a few drops in a diffuser, or even into your hands and wafted toward your face. Some can be consumed orally while others have more benefits when applied topically.
Top 3 Medicinal Herbs For Your Health
These are our top picks for using herbs as medicine for physical health as they have arguably been the most researched.
Echinacea is a wonderful herbal supplement for daily use. This coneflower herb is brimming with antioxidants that destroy free radicals. Have the flu? Echinacea has been found to shorten the length of your flu symptoms. In fact, it can reduce the chances that you’ll get a cold by 58%. Pretty amazing.
Evening primrose is a little yellow flower that packs a lot of punch. It has been used to treat PMS symptoms such as hot flashes, acne, and breast pain. It’s also known to ease nerve and bone pain, and lower blood pressure. An inspiring addition to your morning blend of tea!
Comfrey leaf is an excellent herb for what ails your stomach. From curbing diarrhea to relieving excessive menstrual flow, comfrey tea will set you right. It also promotes general healing, so drink it if you’re wounded and want to reduce the appearance of potential scars. Lastly, you may experience its anti-inflammatory effects if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
Best 3 Medicinal Herbs For You Spiritual Connection
There’s no question that herbs having a grounding, awakening, and clarifying effect. Plant-based medicine is as old as time. Every heavily processed prescription medications originated in natural herbal forms. As you consume your herb, whether in a tea ceremony or an essential oil, remember your connection to the earth. Think of where the herb came from. Think of where you came from. You are an important and unique piece of the universal puzzle, much like the herb.
We’ve hailed the benefits of moringa on this blog before – and for good reason. Also called the “Miracle Tree,” moringa is renown in ancient spiritual texts for its soul and body healing properties. Called the “Tree of Life” in the Bible and referred to hundreds of times in Ayurvedic medical texts, this herb will awaken your life force and connect you to the ancient elements of the universe.
Common sage has been used as an aid to spiritual cleansing for hundreds to thousands of years. Native Americans used sage to open and close spiritual rituals and purifying a spiritual space. Called smudging, a person can also be cleansed by the smoke of a bundle of sage.
Also used a cleansing herb, Native Americans used sweet grass as one of their ceremonial plants. Sweet grass is a symbol of peace, healing, positivity, and connection to the Universe (or Spirit, or the Creator, whatever you prefer to call it). You may see braids of the herb at graves as an offering.
Top 3 Herbs As Medicine For Mental Wellness
Anxiety and depression are more common today than ever before. With the constant distractions of technology and, well, life, it can be difficult to find calm. When you need to slow down and self-sooth, take a sip of one of these as herbal teas.
One of the best studied herbs, lavender has earned a reputation as an anxiety and depression reliever. Along the same lines, it can be drank as a tea before bed to induce restful sleep. Even the smell of lavender is therapeutic and calming. Lavender can be used as a tea, an essential oil, or fresh garden herb.
Another gentle and calming herb, chamomile is said to reduce anxiety and insomnia. You may drink it before bed as a tea or purchase capsules for stress-relief on the go. It is thought that chamomile gets its calming effects from an antioxidant called apigenin, which is abundant in chamomile tea.
Looking for a brain boost? Gingko contains a milieu of antioxidants, destroying free radicals and purifying your cellular structure. It has actually been effective in promoting the cognitive function of individuals suffering from dementia and alzheimers. However, it may improve brain function of healthy users, as well. Furthermore, this boost to the brain may aid you in reducing anxiety and depression.